One Path, Two Roads
My family and I live in America. A place that is mixed with so much. We’ve been here in America for about 11 years now. I’m fifteen but until a few days ago the thought about language never overcame me.
Everyone in my family knows about 3 different languages although we all don’t know the equal amount of each language. I am fluent in three languages, English, Bangla, and Hindi. My family’s birth language is Bangla.
My siblings and I mostly speak English when we’re all together so it gets hard for our parents to understand us since they aren’t that good at it. My father is better at Hindi than he is in English. My mom on the other hand understands my siblings and me a little when we speak in English but not much. Her understanding of English has become much better now than before. My mom uses context clues to figure out other words she may know, which I really like about her.
At age 5 when we came to America I began to learn English and Hindi, which became my second and third language. My siblings also learned English, as well as Hindi, but since I learned English at a younger age I became more fluent at it.
Although speaking three different languages for me has it great advantages it also has its disadvantages. Sometimes that causes a communication barrier between my siblings and my parents because they don’t understand English that well.
I remember it was October 2010, and around 6:30. I was sitting in the squash classroom, which was in the basement of Drexel. There I was waiting for my mom to come so we could have a conference about me playing squash and about my report card from school. I waited in there for a while and then saw her. She came in through the open doors, looking around not knowing any of the students but a few of the staffs. Then I went to her and we both sat down.
Katie, the academic director, and Brett, the squash director of SquashSmarts, told us to wait until the students leave so we could have the conference. We waited and watched as the students left the room to go home. And then they both came over, sat down, and we started speaking.
Katie said, "Monisha has been doing great in both school and squash." I translate what Katie said to my mom because I was older, knew more English, so my siblings didn’t have to do it anymore.
"Ami onake valo korchi schoole ar squashe" I told my mom.
My mom said "O, valo tho" She was happy to hear that I was doing good in both squash and school.
I told them that my mom said “Oh, that’s good.” We were going back and forth like this for a while. And then I saw Brett looking at the way my mom and I were speaking.
Brett looked at me and said "It amazing how quickly you can transition from one language to another, with no problem. One second you're speaking English and then the other you're speaking Bangla. I’ve never seen this side of you." Brett and Katie both knew that I knew English and Bangla but they never heard me use the languages back to back. I smiled at him and then translated that to my mom who then also smiled. We continued with the conference on like that.
Since I know three languages sometimes I combine them together and then speak. I mostly do that when there are some Bengali or Indian food that I don’t know how to say in English because they are so different or me just randomly speaking in two languages.
Just the other day my best friend, Sabrina, came over to see me, it had been a year since we last saw each other even though we live right around the block. My sister, her and me sat on the carpet and played a board game called Ludo; its really fun if you play the Bengali way.
“No etha cheating, etha fair na. Choir.” I yelled at Sabrina.
“Na tuih dakohos nai” She yelled back to me.
“Okay, whatever. Game continue kor.” My sister said to the both of us.
We finished the game. Then when Sabrina was about to leave she just said a random sentence using English, Bangla, Hindi and Spanish, although we’re not that good at Spanish.
At those two times and many others, I didn’t realized how much language played a role in my life, making me who I am or even showing people how educated I am. The way I spoke gave people the first taste of who I am.
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